New Mexico Federal Lands Council
IF YOU SAY NOTHING – THEN YOUR VOICE ISN’T HEARD
Welda McKinley Grider
To borrow from a popular cartoon:
A dog is sitting on his doghouse writing the next Great Novel.
“Will you miss me while I’m gone?” he asked.
“Why?” she said, “Where are you going?”
“Don’t you remember?” he said. “I’m going on an expedition and I’ll be gone for twenty-five years.”
“I’m sorry.” She said. “I guess I wasn’t listening”.
Although this pretty much sums up most marriage conversations and is amusing it also sums up our “conversations” with the various Government Agencies and in that frame is less than amusing.
“BLM begins review of split-estate issues”
Although the article is concerned with the issue of mineral rights vs. surface rights and might not concern most of us on first blush – lets give another look.
“The law is so skewed in favor of the subsurface owners, I just fail to see how the surface owners are going to be placated.” Peter Shelton is quoted saying. He goes further to say, “I applaud the BLM for at least asking for public comment”.
Whether or not this issue affects us personally – it behooves us to pay attention and make our comments known before it sets precedence over issues that do affect us.
Very few ranchers themselves understood the concept of “split-estate” until the now famous Hage vs. United States case came into public notice. Although that case was a victory in our corner – it is still either not understood by Government Agencies/Employees or ignored.
It has been said that ranchers in this day and time need to have a law degree to operate and sadly that is true. We need to educate ourselves on the split estate issue and comment broadly and often. It has been said you can either write a letter or spit in your hand, both have the same impact. While I agree – I say if you say nothing then no one hears you and “you have no voice”. Rest ASSURED someone will find the time to comment and you won’t like it.
Write a letter to the BLM office stating your concerns and understanding of the split estate rights on grazing land. Send it Return Receipt Requested.
Forest Service Request for Comments; Grazing Permit Administration Forms
Although the following information may or may not affect your ranching operation, keep in mind that any action/law suit that negatively affects one rancher – will sooner or later affect us all. The other Government Agencies will use that as precedence for their actions.
Mr. Martinez from Arizona and others can attest to the fact if you “relinquish” your grazing permit (to transfer it to the heirs) it can be lost. If you refuse to do this - your cattle can illegally be confiscated and sold. This is nothing to be taken lightly.
Those with Forest Service permits usually say they don’t want to “rock the boat” and get on some “black list” as far as their permit is concerned. This is a real concern and my opinion is that those of us with no Forest Service permits (and therefore can’t be “black listed”) need to be the voice for the industry. It is up to us to stand in the gap for our neighbors and write the letters.
Just when you thought your State Land was safe….look up the law. Leases are given “at the discretion of the Commissioner”. It is up to the current Leasee to make known their “intent to renew”. Current Leases can be terminated “with reason” at the total discretion of the Commissioner. Ask me…my 95-year-old Grandmother lost her lease after nearly 60 years over what basically amounts to a paperwork problem.
Never assume it can’t happen to you. Make your voice known.
They are the Government and they are NOT here to help you.